This 1999 “State of the Climate Report” is a collection of essays on climate change written by noted climate-denying scientists, many of whom have established financial relationships with the fossil fuel industry. The initial essays of the report present arguments that the unusually warm temperatures of recent years are not associated with climate change and aren’t actually that unusual, while the last few essays focus on the advantages (to humans and plants) of an increasingly warm world.
The report is funded by the Greening Earth Society (“GES”), a non-profit organization created in 1997 by the Western Fuels Association “as a vehicle for advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use.” The GES has openly declared that the majority of their financial support comes from energy and fossil fuel companies. The scientific advisors to the GES include Robert C. Balling, Jr., Patrick Michaels, and Willie Soon. Balling, whose research is cited in this report, receives funding from Exxon, the British Coal Corporation, Cyprus Mineral, and OPEC. Michaels is a known climate skeptic with deep ties to fossil fuel interests, and is also largely funded by the oil and energy industry. Soon, a scientist whose climate research is regularly cited by parties seeking to doubt anthropogenic contributions to climate change, was revealed to have been receiving large contributions from the oil industry (particularly Exxon) in relation to his research.
The report is published by New Hope Environmental Services, a consultancy firm owned by Patrick Michaels “whose mission is to publicize findings on climate change and scientific and social perspectives that may not otherwise appear in the popular literature or media.” Financial relationships between New Hope and various fossil fuel and utility interests were disclosed throughout the mid-2000s, notably following the leak of a 2006 memo from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (“IREA”). The memo revealed a $100,000 contract between Michaels and IREA and referred to a multifaceted strategy coordinated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Michaels, and Koch Industries, among others.
I. “Media Coverage of 1998’s Not-So-Unusual Weather Events.”
A few essays in this report focus in particular on the unusually warm weather patterns of 1998, which the authors are “totally confident (…) was a result of El Nino, and not dreaded ‘global warming’ – that is, a human product.” One essay by Robert Davis, who worked alongside Michaels at UVA’s Environmental Sciences Department as well as on the World Climate Report (a blog published by New Hope), focuses on “Media Coverage of 1998’s Not-So-Unusual Weather Events.” Davis states that “El Ninos are as regular as prunes” and that “the media hype that accompanied 1998’s weather was far more exceptional than the actual events.” Davis presents the financial advantages of unusually warm winters, arguing that if El Nino was “indeed responsible for the elevated 1997-1998 winter temperatures, then we realized significant savings on snow removal and heating costs (…) Estimates of the national savings in energy costs alone (…) exceed $5 billion.”
II. “The ABC’s of CO2”
A highlight of the report is an alphabetized list of “Carbon Dioxide’s Many Benefits,” titled “The ABC’s of CO2.” The piece was contributed by Craig Idso, who founded and led the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which was partially funded by ExxonMobil. Idso writes that “Carbon dioxide is an elixir of life (…) Like love, carbon dioxide’s many splendors are difficult to describe.” Idso goes on to enumerate the advantages of CO2 to the world’s flora and fauna, including “Enhanced early growth of plants,” and increases in “photosynthetic rates” and “quantities of animal life.”
III. Basking in the Winter Warmth
In the final essay of the report, Thomas Gale Moore argues for the advantages of warmer weather to human wellbeing. As a result of the warmer weather in 1997-1998, Moore writes that “newspapers and magazines published a spate of articles describing the many benefits, and downright pleasure, that many found with the lack of “real” winter.” He presents anecdotal evidence for the advantages of warmer weather on “each side of the Atlantic,” mentioning that “golfers in record numbers improved their game” and “mail carriers’ sprained ankles and falls were down 40 percent.” Moore does not mention the experiences of the weather patterns in other parts of the world in 1998, such as the series of unusually intense floods and natural disasters experienced across Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent during that year.
IV. Temperatures from Space
The report also includes essays by Roy Spencer, a former NASA scientist who has worked with religious groups denying climate change, and Reid Bryson, who was an early proponent of global cooling. Bryson was cited frequently on climate change issues by Senator James Inhofe, who has made regular speeches opposing climate change and whose top contributor is Koch Industries.